A while ago I wrote a post suggesting some ideas for more interesting photography having returned from a trip to Moscow. As I find myself involved in an ever increasing amount of photography for our products in the Decorator’s Notebook Shop, the opportunities for taking personal photos seems to diminish. However, in November I visited friends in France, providing the perfect opportunity to roam the streets of another city, camera in hand looking for opportunities to capture the spirit of Paris.
As an amateur enthusiast, I am always excited by the opportunity to dive into street photography. I see it as an immediate challenge to attempt to capture the spirit of a well known place whilst trying to find a unique or unusual perspective that hasn’t been printed on the postcards sold every few metres along the banks of the Seine. Here are a few of the pictures I took on this trip and some ideas for you to take away on your next city break!
1. Slow down your shutter speed
This might be dependent on your equipment, but if your camera allows try slowing down your shutter speed to capture movement. Below are a couple of examples, one where I’ve kept the camera as still as possible as a metro pulled out of a station and a second where I’ve used a “panning” technique, moving my camera to at the same speed as a cyclist to keep him in the centre of my shatter as he moves past (this is a technique requiring patience and a great deal of trial and error!).
2. Speed up your shutter
An alternative way to capture action is by doing the complete opposite by speeding up your shutter. This can be done manually or by setting your camera to its sport mode. This is great for capturing a split-second moment in motion and can add a degree of trepidation as to “what happened next”.
3. Utilise reflections and distortions
I first saw the technique of shooting through different glass in this “Life Through a Marble” album on Flickr. I love the idea of capturing a whole panorama in a miniature globe, but a flawless marble is surprisingly difficult to come by. I took the lens glass from an old broken lens, which despite not having the same wide angle, gives a similar effect.
If you don’t have anything suitable then using reflections can be an interesting way of capturing other elements of a city, whether you capture a famous monument through its reflection in a puddle, fountain or window or even use the reflective surface of a landmark itself! Can anyone guess where I took the shot below?
4. Record the everyday
The temptation when your in a city full of landmarks is to make them the centre of your focus. One way not to replicate the postcard snaps, is to divert you lens from the attention seeking tourist sights and onto the everyday life of the city’s residents.
5. Capture the unusual
In my previous post I wrote about keeping your camera in your hand which is essential if you want to capture the unusual events, people or things you might come across in any big city. Sometimes these encounters can only last a split second, but can act as a reminder that amongst the everyday is the odd eccentric character or random act that can be a real gem of a photo if you can capture it on camera.
Of course the idea of what makes for a good photo is one that is entirely subjective. Your photographic subjects should come from a personal connection of the things that inspire you. I’ve found that so much about developing your own photography skills come from the ability to see things in a different way by tuning your gaze to analyse a scene and explore your surroundings for opportunities. Honing this skill can only be done by practice, repetition, trial and error. Luckily with a digital camera you can snap away at everything and everything and by looking at what you feel has and hasn’t worked, you will gradually hone your photographic style. Every time you take your camera out you’ll have more of an idea on what to look for by knowing what you find interesting.
I’d love to know which cities you’ve visited where you’ve taken your most creative snaps… share your experiences in the comments.